June 12th, 2024

Opposition seeks to oust Speaker for third time over Liberal post attacking Poilievre

By Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press on May 21, 2024.

Speaker of the House of Commons Greg Fergus takes part in the Speakers Parade prior to question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The Opposition Conservatives, backed by the Bloc Québécois, are calling for the House Speaker to resign over what they say is yet another display of partisan behaviour.

The accusation stems from a post on the Liberal party website promoting a summer barbecue event involving Speaker Greg Fergus, who is a Liberal MP.

The event details included a political attack on Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, saying his “reckless policies” would risk the health, safety and pocketbooks of Canadians.

“The promotional material of this event uses very partisan, inflammatory language concerning the Conservative party and the leader of the official opposition,” said Alberta Conservative MP Chris Warkentin in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The language in the event details was automatically included based on a template for events posted to the website, said Liberal spokesman Parker Lund.

He said a miscommunication between the party and Fergus’s riding association led to the wrong text being put on the event’s details.

A spokesman for Fergus said that the Speaker’s team did not approve the text and that the riding association did not know the event was going to be posted on the party’s website.

The Speaker’s office provided a copy of the original information for the event, which did not include any partisan language.

The more-partisan version has been taken down from the Liberal party’s website.

“It has simply become impossible to make any distinction now between Speaker Greg Fergus and Liberal Greg Fergus,” Warkentin wrote in a letter to the Speaker, asking him to resign.

“Every ruling you give now – and, with hindsight, every ruling you have given – will now all be assumed to have been delivered with a red tint.”

The Bloc Québécois joined the call for the resignation on Tuesday, while the New Democrats called on the party to apologize.

“The Liberal Party of Canada has shown profound disrespect by publishing that without the authorization of the Speaker, without the knowledge of the Speaker,” NDP House leader Peter Julian said Tuesday.

“They should apologize to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the House of Commons for acting this way.”

This is the third time Conservatives have called for Fergus to resign.

They asked him to leave the post after a video tribute to the Ontario Liberals’ departing interim leader in which Fergus was donning his Speaker’s robes was shown to a party convention. Fergus apologized for the incident and a study by MPs yielded a recommendation that he pay a fine.

Conservatives raised ire again last month when Fergus kicked Poilievre out of the House of Commons during question period after the Conservative leader called the prime minister a “wacko” and refused to retract the comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

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